Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins quelled the comeback of Monica Puig in the first round of the Mutua Madrid Open. Collins, seeded No.6 at a career-high ranking of world No.8 this week, won the last eight games in a 7-5, 6-0 victory.
2016 Rio Olympics gold medalist Puig had been sidelined for more than a year and a half, after two surgeries on her shoulder and bicep tendon in that time. The former World No.27, now without a WTA ranking, got into the event with a wildcard, has only played four matches since her first major surgery, on her elbow, in 2019.
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Despite Puig’s long layoff, she was competitive with Collins in the opening set despite falling behind early. Unable to stretch leads of 3-0, 4-1 and 5-3, Collins eventually found the rhythm required to earn her second career win in the Spanish capital.
Danielle debriefs: Collins was complimentary of Puig’s effort after the 80-minute match.
“You never know what to expect when someone’s been out for a while, and they’ve been working on some things,” she said. “You don’t know what type of game style that they’re going to play, so it was a little bit tricky trying to anticipate what she was going to do.
“I think she played at a super-high level, especially in the first set, and gave me a lot of challenges, so I really needed to just find my rhythm on the court.”
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Collins on her own comeback: Collins, too, has been sidelined for stretches this year. Friday’s match was just her sixth since her run to the final Down Under, and she was forced out of the Credit One Charleston Open and the Billie Jean King Cup qualifying round with a neck injury she sustained during a quarterfinal run at the Miami Open.
“When you go a little period where you aren’t playing some matches, you almost feel a little bit rusty,” she said. “I just needed to be patient and try to get myself back into it.”
Andreescu reels Riske in to reach second round
Collins’ next opponent is also in the midst of a spring comeback swing. 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu sealed a 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 win over Alison Riske in her Mutua Madrid Open debut to advance to a Round 2 meeting with the World No.8.
The 1 hour, 56-minute victory was Andreescu’s first career Top 50 win on clay.
“I have watched many of her matches, actually enjoy watching her play,” Andreescu said of Collins. “I know it’s going to be a tough match. She’s a very strong competitor, but hopefully I can pull it off.”
Pegula saves match point to beat Giorgi
Friday’s most dramatic win belonged to Collins’ compatriot Jessica Pegula. The 12th-seeded American saved a match point in a wild 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 win over Camila Giorgi, her fifth win against the Italian in seven tries.
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Giorgi led 4-1 in the final set and had a chance to win the match serving at 5-3. That 10th game proved the most titanic of the match, and its outcome was crucial; Pegula ultimately got the decider back on serve after seven deuces and seven prior break points. She later denied Giorgi two points for 6-5, and saved four break points to serve out the match.
Sloane Stephens rounded out the American contingent in action on Friday, but the 2017 US Open winner dropped her first-round match to Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina, 7-5, 6-4. Stephens battled back from a 5-0 deficit in the first set in the eventual defeat.